Position Battles and Players that Make the Last Preseason Game Worth Watching

Aug 18, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe (84) leads the Vikings onto the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars before the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 18, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe (84) leads the Vikings onto the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars before the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports



Thursday, August 30th will be the conclusion of the Minnesota Vikings preseason. With final cuts just two days later, where coaches will be tasked with trimming the roster down from 90 players to just 53, I wanted to take a look at the ones that you may want to pay attention to. These players are either on the roster bubble or vying for a starting spot.

QB:

Trevor Siemian – Honestly, we haven’t seen much from Siemian this preseason, but our coach sees him as our back up QB. So, I’m not fully sure if this is really a competition but it certainly would be seen as one, had Zim not come out in favor of Siemian already. Lets hope he can prove himself vs lesser competition on Thursday.

Kyle Sloter – “The Closer”, as he has become known in the Vikings locker room, would seem pretty safe to make the 53, if looking in from a distance. However, the bottom of this roster is strong… really strong. Could the Vikings choose to only keep 2 QBs, in order to jog another roster spot elsewhere? I personally doubt it. Sloter seems to be vying for the backup QB spot, rather than just a roster spot, so it’s hard to imagine the Vikings cutting him loose. How the Vikings decide to split reps between these two QBs could be very telling in multiple ways.

This Sloter throw last week though….

RB:

Mike Boone – Boone got most of the second-team reps vs the Seahawks and seems to have locked up the 3rd RB spot. His status would come into question only if mistakes are made tomorrow night. If Boone can run a clean game, the job should be his.

Roc Thomas – If Boone does slip up, can Thomas take advantage? He has the skill to be on an NFL roster. Could this just be his audition tape for other teams? Is there any way the Vikings could luck out and sneak him onto their practice squad, without another team sniping him off of the waiver wire on his way there? Probably not… but we can cross our fingers and hope he fumbles a few times or something…

Here is some tape from the Jags game that has a couple nice runs from both of these guys:

WR:

Kendall Wright – Wright’s experience may give him the edge here. Even though he hasn’t been playing well in the preseason thus far, the Vikings could opt for overall experience, over players with higher upside. With OC John DeFilippo’s praise of how Wright has progressed, it seems more likely than it did a week ago, that he makes this roster. He will still need a strong showing Thursday, though..

Stacy Coley – “You can’t make the club in a tub,” that’s what our coach says. Hopefully Coley can make it on the field Thursday, but it appears that’s unlikely to happen.

Brandon Zylstra – This is his big opportunity. After being injured during the first two preseason games, Zylstra didn’t show much  vs. the Seahawks. I, along with many others, hope he can make this roster after the buzz he has gotten during the offseason.

Chad BeebeHis late game heroics against the Seahawks may have earned him a spot on the 53. However, if he can’t play this Thursday, it’ll be tough to hand that spot to him. Even if he weren’t to play, he’d be a prime candidate for the practice squad. He was the one who caught sloter’s game-winning touchdown pass last week in the video above.

TE:

Tyler Conklin vs Blake Bell – Only one can make the roster. Who can make the better impression. Neither have stood out thus far so this could be the deciding game.

OL:

Brett Jones – How will he integrate after being traded here, just days ago? And, what position with they play him at? As we talked about the other day, when the trade happened, he’s played most of his career at center but can also (and has) play guard. We expect him to play center while Elflein is out but we hope Elflein will avoid the regular season PUP list, which means the team expects him to play within the first 6 games (likely sooner).

Tom Compton and Danny Isidora – Both need to step up if they want a starting roll. A well-played game by these two would go a long way in building confidence, around the fan base, that things might be okay along the line.

Colby Gossett – There doesn’t seem to be room for him on this roster right now, but a strong performance could help his case. The practice squad is likely.

DL:

Stephen Weatherly – If the Vikings aren’t able to keep 10 defensive lineman, I believe Weatherly could be on the chopping block. He needs to play well, in order to show he’s worth keeping, along with 10 defensive lineman.

LB:

Antwione Williams – If the Vikings keep 5 LBs, the 5th LB spot may be taken by someone not currently on the roster. But, if they do keep a current player around as that 5th guy, it will likely be Williams. He needs to play VERY well. No matter what happens, he’ll always have this to remember:

Reshard Cliett – Another name to keep in mind for that 5th roster spot is Cliett. Courtney Cronin has him as the one staying in that spot. Again, he needs to play well to even have a chance though.

Devante Downs – Probably just playing for a spot on the practice squad, but if he shows up, there is an outside chance he could earn a role.

CB:

Marcus Sherels – I know, I know. He is making the roster, but his injury is something to keep an eye on. Could he be put on IR to free up a roster spot?

Holton Hill – The skill set is there. He hasn’t done anything wrong in the preseason, but also hasn’t done anything flashy, to earn a spot. He should make this roster on just potential alone, but there could be an outside shot the Vikings top brass believe they can sneak him onto the practice squad (I’d be shocked if he made it through).

Craig James and Horace Richardson – Both will be either auditioning for other teams or hoping for a spot on the practice squad.

S:

Jayron Kearse – Do the Vikings have the roster space to keep 5 safeties? After the acquisition of George Iloka, Kearse may be fighting for his 53-man life.

George Iloka – Speaking of Iloka, I will be keeping an eye on him as well. According to reports, Iloka has been getting some reps at LB. This could be a way for the Vikings to only hold onto 4 LBs and thereby hold onto 5 safeties. If the Vikings do plan on giving Iloka reps in a hybrid LB spot, will they give it away in the last preseason game?

K:

Daniel Carlson – He needs to get his confidence back. I’m not sure the Vikings fan base will ever fully believe in a kicker again, but the guy needs to at-least believe in himself…

ST:

Mike Hughes – With Marcus Sherels likely not playing on Thursday due to injury, I would like to see more out of Hughes in the return game. Let’s see some of that lightning we were hearing about before the preseason started, and he constantly showed at UCF.

There are a lot of players fighting for their job and a lot of position battles to keep our eyes on. Many think the 4th and final preseason game isn’t important because most of the starters won’t play BUT, this is my favorite preseason game because this is where your team is truly formed. This is where you build your depth. And diamonds happen to form out of this rough. Let’s all remember the start of Adam Thielen’s career, where he came to camp undrafted and had to earn a spot just to the practice squad…. crazy.

Ian Parrague @SuperSkolFan
Minnesota Sports Fan